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> July 13, 2006 - Arrival in Svalbard
post Jul 14 2006, 06:19 AM
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Today we left Oslo and flew to Svalbard! We were all very excited to get there and see what it looked and felt like. When we came through the clouds we saw ocean water with lots of floating chunks of ice. Then we could see the land which was rugged, dark and wet. Snow still clung to the sides of the mountains in many places, and several glaciers were visible. It looks really different than anything in the United States, even different from Alaska. Since I have spent time on Baffin Island west of Greenland, it look familiar to me. I was happy to be back in such a strange and beautiful landscape.

Our Arrival in Svalbard
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Our Research Scientists Al and Mike with a SMALL Bear at the Longyearbyen Airport
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We went directly to UNIS, which is a small University on Svalbard. UNIS offers graduate classes to students studying the arctic. Most students are from Europe, but the university is getting more interest lately and has expanded into some larger buildings. March 2007 begins the International Polar Year, and this new facility will be busier than ever.

The new buildings are really amazing the architect worked to represent the local coal mining industry, the close cultural connection to ships and the local environment in her design. There are no totally vertical walls and the main materials are light colored wood, glass and copper. It is very clean and light, has wonderful colored walls and strange and pleasing angles.

UNIS also serves as a training and outfitting operation for researchers going into the high arctic both on Svalbard and Greenland. Their warm storage facility is incredibly well organized and includes such items as rifles, helmets, survival suits and instruments of all types. What an amazing place!

UNIS storage
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Question of the day: What is the International Polar Year? Look it up and see what you can find out.
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